I am an intentional citizen of the city of Troy, NY. I love it here, and recommend it to others regularly, but my city has a lot of problems. The biggest one is how unwelcoming our city government is to its own citizens.
A perennial example of this is “street cleaning”. Our city government either has a severe obsessive disorder about cleanliness, or uses street cleaning as an excuse to squeeze hundreds of thousands of extra tax dollars out of citizens’ wallets without having to raise taxes. I’ll let you decide which…
On some streets, like ours, you may never park on the street on one particular day every week. On others, they only clean a few times a year, so signs pop up on the curb 24 hours(ish) ahead of time to tell you you can’t park in front of your own house the next day. In the first case, most people are aware if the issue, so they only run afoul of the rules every year or so when they forget what day it is or have some personal emergency that takes them away on the wrong night. In the second case, given that many people don’t drive their car every day, or gasp go on vacation from time to time, they net a lot more.
This regularly results in scads of cars being not just ticketed, but stolen and held for ransom by a local towing company. The ticket is “only” $50, but in order to get your car back, you have to walk or taxi miles into the bad part of town and show up with $200 cash or a credit card to buy back your own car. My understanding is that the city gets a cut of this action, as well.
Understand, I don’t blame the towing company on this, as they are doing a job, and they do it more or less reasonably. For their part, they honk their horns loudly for a while before starting to tow you, and will let you escape if you happen to hear them and come out immediately. If you catch them after they have hooked you up, but before they leave, they will let you buy your car back on the spot for only $40. I don’t know if the city gets a cut of this.
And so I find myself, again, dealing with my city’s “cleaning obsession”, already $40 down and with a $50 bill hanging over my head, because my wife left my truck on the street for fifteen fucking minutes while we got my daughter ready for day-care. This happens to my family every year or so. Life happens, and humans make mistakes. Just tallying in my mind, in the thirty years I’ve lived in Troy, I or a member of my household have been towed from in front of my own house about 22 times. Guestimating based on recollection of “saves” like today versus actual tows, that’s roughly $4500 that the city has stolen from my family under the auspices of “cleaning streets” that really weren’t dirty in the first place!
We pay too much for taxes, our city government is dominated by a gaggle of “Republicans” and a gaggle of “Democrats” whose most mutually distinct features are generally only who they hung out with in High School, and who they like or dislike, and our zoning laws are obscenely complex and vaguely written. I hate these things, but at least no one’s lying about them or sneaking up on me in the early morning to surprise me with them. Government is always a pain to its citizens, but this dishonest “we’re just trying to provide you services” nickel-and-dime bullshit is too much! This isn’t really about cars at all, it’s about the principle of government, however rapacious, at least being honest about how it’s taking our money.
I’m sick of it!
As of this moment, I am a “single issue voter” for the purposes of city elections! I will officially vote for ANYONE who makes a “hold-me-to-it” campaign promise to put an end to stealing our fucking cars in order to extort unlegislated taxes from our citizens. I don’t care who you are:
- Republican? Fine, I’ll tell my foreign friends to steer clear until you’re out of office. Just stop stealing our cars!
- Democrat? Fine, I’ll let parts of my house fall apart and demand a reassessment before you can raise my taxes again. Just stop stealing our cars!
- Green/Working families? Whatever, I know you’re a Democrat anyway. Just stop stealing our cars!
- Conservative/Independence/etc? Whatever, I know you’re a Republican anyway. Just stop stealing our cars!
To make it succinct, at this point, I would vote for Satan himself, revived from Christian mythology replete with horns, brimstone, and pitchfork, if he would guarantee that his first act in office would be to put an end to this conniving bullshit, and STOP. FUCKING. STEALING. OUR. FUCKING. CARS.